Anyway, we went to this gig for no better reasons that we felt like going out and a band called 'Fuck Off Batman' were playing; and saw 'Amoniker' (pretty good, in a kind of standard indie way) followed by 'Sexy Breakfast'. They wandered onto the small stage, and proceeded to rock out rather marvelously. Joe, their front-man, has stage presence in bucket-loads, a good line in banter and played a pretty mean guitar, and he was backed by bass, drums, keyboard and DJ in an admirably tight fashion. Oh, and they had an astonishing following of teenaged girls. I thought I'd have to pay 25 quid to go to an N-Sync concert to end up in a mosh pit (well, 'bouncy area') full of teenaged girls, but no: just 3 quid, and decent music as well. I hasten to add that for most of their set I was lurking coolly on the side-lines with my posse, but their last track demanded more action: a guitar workout with the ethereal refrain from 'Walking In The Air' (yes, the one sung by Aled Jones in Christmas TV staple 'The Snowman') plinked out on the keyboard over it all. Sounds like a comedy novelty number at best, but in fact is a bit fantastic.
Bought Joe a drink afterwards and chatted a bit (which is how I learned his name). Seems that the last track had been their most recent one, so he seemed pleased that I had been so blown away by it. The evening ended swiftly with the advent of 'Fuck Off Batman'. FOB (jazz with a woman shrieking poetry over it, but worse than that sounds. Seriously.) had clearly either used up all talent and sense of humour on the name, or were operating on a higher comedic plain than any of us. The crowd that had been leaping about a mere ten minutes ago dispersed with such speed that drinks were left undrunk. Shame about them, but I regard them with the slightest of affection for chosing a name that encouraged us to go to the gig in the first place...
So, the point of that recap was to explain why I found myself on my own last night, in 'The Cellar', previously a somewhat grim metallers pub called 'The Dolly', but newly redecorated for a more diverse appeal. I had attempted to persuade people to come with me on Tuesday, but only Jeremy (cleanskies again) seemed particularly enthusiastic. Turned up and hung around drinking lime and soda, casing the venue, and engaging in a covert war with some bloke in a scarf who kept stealing the prime leaning space in the corner near the speaker, and then failing to utilise it in half as louche a way as me. Still, having gone to the toilet and lost the corner again, the first act appeared, and reconciled me to the situation by being the sort of thing you want to be as far away from as possible. Imagine Dido (who, it may help you to know, I consider to be a poor Beth Orton impersonator, and I don't rate Beth Orton all that much) singing some words she'd found in Tori Amos' bin to herself, whilst improvising accompaniment on a guitar. Her name was Yu, and though her confidence was admirable, that was about it, sadly. The inter-song banter nearly raised it to 'so bad it's good' ("Here's a song that just kind of came into my mind, about traveling and not getting anywhere" in an American accent), but not quite.
Rather glad that no-one had come on my say-so at this point, but unnerved to find that once I'd spotted Joe at the bar, I kept on catching his eye. Worried that this might turn me gay, and curious about Jeremy's absence, I texted her mobile and she replied promising to be along soon. Reclaimed my corner, had a quick chat with Joe when he wandered over to thank me for coming, then slumped listening to the eclectic but pleasing DJing (from Seb out of 'Sexy Breakfast', I now think) until she showed up. Broke my 'no drinking' rule when she briskly ordered us a Kronenburg each, but fuck it, eh? It occurred to me that without my no drinking resolution I'd already have been two or three pints in credit, and hence well on the way to being quite pissed (in the English sense) by the time she arrived. Instead I was able to nurse the beer (the only one I had all night, as it transpired) while we watched 'House Zed Light' (or words to that effect), an averageish indie band with an excellent lead guitarist/singer.
The leisurely gap between bands gave Jeremy and I a chance to chat, and play 'Soap Opera', a game at which Jeremy excels, in which you pick a couple of interacting people and construct stories around them explaining their appearance and actions. Still unsure how much influence this diversion had on Jeremy's claim that the goth girl and her mother who were sitting near us were both eyeing me up, but it was fun nevertheless. 'Sexy Breakfast' arrived at last, though we were both disappointed to note that the teenaged girly fanclub was much reduced, perhaps because it was a school night. Still, the band themselves proved diverting enough, particularly the realisation that Joe can actually sing (a fact masked previously by The Wheatsheaf's shitty sound balance), and tends to strike convincing rock-star poses during solos (a fact masked previously by The Wheatsheaf's tiny stage). The lyrics were ace as well. Joe chanting "We have landed. We have landed. And you all look pretty ugly to me" was great, though perhaps you had to be there; and they finished with the 'Walking In The Air' track, which pleased me as much as first time, even without the girls...
Realised that though I'd seen Jeremy dance before, it had previously been on occasions whilst I was pretty drunk and hence my memories were somewhat hazy. I was pleased to note that she looks pretty damn good even when I'm sober :) and I can remember this clearly, so score one for the non-drinker. Unfortunately, our boogieing ended when she was foolish enough to retrieve the knocked-out glasses lens of a bloke who'd previously caught our attention by being rather too old and greasy-looking to be groping pissed teenaged girls like that. He proceeded to apparently attempt to parlay this good deed of Jeremy's into a relationship, with embarrassingly effusive, barely coherent and deeply repetitive thanks and 'grateful' attempts to grope and kiss her. The full horror is recollected by Jeremy here [and now here, in comic form.]. I was unsure as to whether my role was properly to wade in and say "Unhand this poor woman, rough fellow, or be prepared to suffer the consequences", but I figured that this was probably unnecessary given that Jeremy could easily beat me in a fight, so just hung around nearby in case she needed some back-up and got distracted by that final killer track.
Made what was perhaps a minor mistake in offering Jeremy a drink after she'd finally gotten rid of the ruffian (his parting shot: "Oi", followed by a blown kiss as she turned round. Classy.) which meant we ended up hanging around drinking up, chatting to each other, tall gay people and bar-staff, and watching the bands hump enormous amounts of equipment up steep narrow stairs, the poor fuckers. Bought a single from Joe which I've been listening to nearly constantly today. Wandered off our separate ways eventually. Fun.
Interesting footnote: Returning home, I found myself thinking "OK, have I got water by me bed for when I wake up, and a bin in case I'm ill?" automatically, though not drunk at all. I guess the feeling of returning late from somewhere, tired and smelling smoky triggered an automatic reflex based on the assumption that I was drunk. Quite pleased that my learned autonomic defence systems were so efficient. Even more pleased that they were unnecessary this time. Smug.